A classroom can teach you hard skills that will help you land your first hospitality job. What's much harder to teach — and ultimately necessary to rise through the ranks to your dream job — are soft skills.
Sometimes called people skills, soft skills address how you communicate, work with others, and handle the day to day aspects of your job. Try these 5 ways to work on your soft skills and impress your employers.
1. Listen to others
Active listening is among the hospitality skills critical to your success. When you actively listen to a customer, you can not only understand what they need, but demonstrate that you hear them and proactively work to address the situation. By solving a problem for them, you can make them happy, cultivate loyalty, and win praise. It's easy to see how this benefits you directly, but how can you improve your listening skills?
First, don't assume you know what someone is saying. Allow them to finish speaking before you ask a question. Make eye contact and pay attention to their body language. Can you see things from their point of view? Then ask yourself what you can do to remedy the situation.
2. Be positive
If you've been around someone in a bad mood, you know how quickly the toxic cloud can spread to customers and coworkers alike. Stay positive and you'll find that you're a joy to be around. Positivity is rewarded by praise from customers or promotions at work.
Practice positivity by keeping a list of what you are grateful for, finding ways to laugh at the little things, and striving for optimism and resilience. Use motivational hospitality quotes to foster a sense of resilience and positive thinking.
3. Take in criticism — then change
Change the way you think about criticism. "It’s an opportunity to improve," says self-improvement author Leo Barbuta.
Try to remember that someone is not giving you feedback to make you feel bad, but to improve your job performance.
Listen to them and thank them for taking the time to offer feedback. Think about what they said. Is there a kernel of truth to their comments? Can you change the negative experience into a positive one by learning from it?
The best hospitality leaders are always open to learning and improving, so practice remaining open to change. If you can do this, you will reap many rewards.
4. Practice your non-verbal communication
Clear communication is the most important soft skill, whether you're communicating face to face, over the phone, via text, or through email or letter. When you communicate clearly with other people, you can build trust, decrease the odds of misunderstanding, foster community, and build teamwork and understanding.
Communicate well by making eye contact and acknowledging everyone in the room. Use clear, open body language. Monitor others' non-verbal cues and respond to questions using non-judgmental language.
For written communication, write what you mean to say, proofread for errors, then check for tone. People often misconstrue emotions in written communication. If you are satisfied the other person will understand what you mean, hit send.
5. Motivate others in all you do
When you become a hospitality manager, make sure your management style incorporates these soft skills. Communicate clearly with your subordinates, maintain a positive vision for the future, and strive to motivate others in all you do.
Soft skills will drive 85 percent of your success on the job, while hard skills only affect 15 percent of job performance. Yet most employers invest professional development funding in hard skills instead of soft ones! By taking your soft skills development seriously and always seeking to improve, you will position yourself far ahead of your peers — and your hard work will be rewarded by employers.